On Thursday, January 28th we got to fly to Alexander Tall Tower! I’m been excited about most of the AWS sites this season, but I was particularly excited about this sites because it’s a unique system that’s about 100 feet tall versus the others which are about 15 feet tall. The 3 riggers (Andrew, Mikey, and Buddy) and 2 helpers from town were able to come too. The 2 helpers were from the IT department, Bill and Bartley, and I had met both of them before. Bartley helped us replace some hard drives this year, so it was nice he was able to come out with us!
It was another nice and sunny day, but it was a little bit breezy on the shelf. The flight took about 45 minutes which was an appreciated break from the 2 long fly days before. The riggers checked that the tower was plume and level using their surveying tools, and they tightened the guy wires. Lee and I decided that it wasn’t necessary to do an instrument raise because we would have needed to raise the lowest 4 levels of instrumentation. We did raise the junction box and a couple of the cables that were closest to the snow surface.
Buddy climbed up to the top of the tower to check that the pyranometer was still level. Lee was thinking about climbing up, but it was actually pretty windy, especially at the top of the tower. Once Buddy was done, we were able to have early day and leave the site by 11am.
Friday, January 29th we were canceled for the Otter, but we got to go on our first Helo flight of the season. We were scheduled to go to both Laurie II and Ferrell AWS. Laurie II AWS stopped transmitting in the fall, so we had planned to check the batteries and power cycle the system. We just needed to swap the data cards at Ferrell AWS since this wasn’t done earlier in the season.
We got to the Helo pad and the pilot explained that it was probably going to be very windy. Since these were going to be quick visits, we decided it was fine to go ahead and fly out. We landed at Laurie II and the wind was at least 20 kts, and we immediately noticed that the nose cone had cracked and the prop was missing.
Lee tested the voltage for the battery with and without the solar panel, and it was fine. He figured the batteries weren’t the problem, so we power cycled and got a transmission on the Teleonics. We were only on the ground for 30 minutes and most of it we spent in the Helo waiting to check the batteries and the transmission. We will need to fly back to Laurie II AWS to replace the nose cone and prop.
We then flew over to Ferrell AWS, where we quickly swapped out the data card and got a gps coordinate just in case it wasn’t done early this season. The wind was still about 20 kts, so we didn’t stay out there for too long.
On the way back to McMurdo we were able to see the large crack in the sea ice near McMurdo. You can see it’s a big piece of ice via the satellite image 🙂
It’s been a full week in McMurdo! We’ve got another 2 weeks to finish 8 more sites.